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Behind enemy lines, 49ers vs. Bengals: Five questions with opposing beat writer

Checking in with Tyler Dragon, who covers the Bengals for the Cincinnati Enquirer:

1. Are Andy Dalton’s career-high 418 yards in the opening loss at Seattle a legitimate sign that he should flourish under a new system?

I don’t want to be prisoner of the moment and say that Andy Dalton will flourish in Zac Taylor’s offensive system based off one game. It’s an extremely small sample size. What I can say is, Dalton and the Bengals should feel encouraged after passing for a career best 418 yards.

It’s a positive sign that Dalton was able to pass for a career high in Taylor’s debut as head coach and play caller.

Quarterback Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals looks on prior to the game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on September 8, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) 

2. What is new coach Zac Taylor like and has Marvin Lewis’ exit been treated as a relief?

Players are more loose with Zac Taylor at the helm. They are allowed to play music and there’s a ping pong table in the locker room. Taylor is establishing himself as a fair-minded players coach.

3. Is Jimmy Garoppolo’s rebuilt knee safe from the Bengals defensive front?

The Bengals defensive line is the strength to their team. Carlos Dunlap told me before the season that the D-line tries to set the tone for the team. They did in Week 1 by dominating Seattle’s offensive line for most of the game. The Bengals sacked Russell Wilson four times and hit the QB nine times.

Wilson’s a mobile quarterback. That’s something Jimmy Garoppolo is not known for. The Niners O-line will have its hands full with Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap and the D-line crew.

A.J. Green #18 of the Cincinnati Bengals laughs with Andre Smith #71 on the sidelines during the second half of a preseason game against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on August 15, 2019 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) 

4. Are the Bengals as poor with red-zone efficiency on offense as the 49ers?

The Bengals were 0-for-3 in the red zone in Seattle. That led to Cincinnati’s demise. It doesn’t help matters that seven-time Pro Bowler A.J. Green is sidelined with an ankle injury. Green has 63 touchdowns in 111 regular season games.

To fill their red zone shortcomings and Green’s void, expect the Bengals to look Tyler Eifert or Tyler Boyd’s way in the red zone. You can’t have a 0-percent touchdown rate in the red zone and expect to have a positive outcome on the scoreboard.

The 49ers went 0-for-3 in the red zone in Week 1, but the difference is San Francisco won the turnover battle, something Cincinnati did not in its opening loss.

5. What atmosphere do you expect in the home opener?

Fans are cautiously optimistic, especially after the team’s showing in Seattle. Not many people believed the Bengals would hang in tough with the Seahawks. I expect Paul Brown Stadium to be near capacity on Sunday. Fans are excited about this new-look Bengals team. At the same time, those same fans want the Bengals to prove that they aren’t the same ol’ Bengals. The only way to do that is to win football games and show some promise like the team did in the Pacific Northwest last week.


Source: East Bay Behind enemy lines, 49ers vs. Bengals: Five questions with opposing beat writer

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